Friday, March 29, 2013

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Daffodils and tulips.  My house looks like spring.

It's starting to feel like spring too.  I just got back from a 4 miler with Coach.  The sun is out warming us and melting the snow.

I also took a walk with Miss Bit the other day.  She kept my pace.  It was another beautiful day.  We passed the time chatting about any and everything, and also finding shapes in the clouds.

Signs.  The cloud creatures made us remember late last summer when we saw our angel cloud at day's end.  We were cooling off in Lake Michigan when the angel morphed into a dove.  I reminded her that the dove is a symbol of the holy spirit.  She said, "That was a miracle Mom."

Spring science projects.  We decided to dye our Easter eggs au naturale.  We chopped some beets, steeped some tea, boiled some spinach, crushed some blueberries and mixed some turmeric.  We had the best results with the tea and the turmeric.  The other specimens were redyed all ROY G BIV thanks to my decorating gels.  We also experimented using some brown eggs and some white ones.

Coach made homemade meatballs and sauce last night for a little impromptu family dinner.  The timing was just right too because we realized it was my bil's birthday.  I didn't have a cake, but I did have a pan of M&M cookie bars.

We may attempt homemade pasta tonight to enjoy with the leftover sauce.

A bunny sighting this morning.  The first of the season was out grazing away this morning.

Family date at the theater for The Croods.  Very clever and entertaining for all ages.

A low key week of staycation.  The kids spent time with their cousins and friends just playing games, watching movies and  replenishing their vitamin D reserves.  The trampoline is finally cleared of snow and the basketball court is reappearing a little more each day.

Brotherly love.

  Cheek to cheek.

Nose to nose.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Proust Questionnaire

Inspired today by Lindsey at A Design So Vast.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Fear and loathing.

Where would you like to live?
Somewhere remote and pristine where I look out at the ocean in my front yard and a mountain range in my back yard.  My only neighbors: trees and critters.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Being truly connected to the people I love.  Authentic relationships.  A good book.  A long walk.  A delicious meal.

To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
Envy and greed.  Narcissism.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
Oskar Schindler (Schindler's List). Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird). Aslan (Chronicles of Narnia). E.T..

Who are your favorite characters in history?
Jesus Christ, Buddha, Mother Theresa, Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemmingway, Anne Frank, and Princess Diana.

Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
My Mom.  Julia Child.  Mary Boleyn.  Katrina Kenison.  Mary Oliver.

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
 Charlotte (Charlotte's Web).  Jane Eyre.  Jo March (Little Women).  Scout Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird).  

Your favorite painter?
Milton Avery.  Pierre Bonnard.  Marc Chagall.  Raoul Dufy.  Nicholas de Stael.  Andrew Wyeth.  Vincent Van Gogh.  Camille Pissaro.

Your favorite musician?
Rickie Lee Jones.  Jack Johnson. Joni Mitchell.

The qualities you most admire in a man?
Honesty, humility, kindness, confidence and authenticity.

The qualities you most admire in a woman?
The same.

Your favorite virtue?

Your favorite occupation?

Who would you have liked to be?
Someone more convicted of what I want and less concerned with what others think of it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

2 day pass

this was a couple days of contradictions.
saturday i felt stuck, blue, blase'.
it's spring break, but we aren't going anywhere.
anywhere except for grandma and grandpa's, which is somewhere.
somewhere very special, in fact.
and it doesn't feel much like spring, but, of course, it is.
we've had gale force winds and flurries in between scarce sightings of the sun.
march madness momentarily inspired t. bone to go out and shovel the basketball court, but then he ended up in the basement playing video games.
this weather craziness made coach appreciative that baseball practice was slated for indoors.
miss bit has been torn between her lizard and her jealous cat, and not at all happy that our plans changed numerous times on saturday.
i think she even said, this day keeps getting worse and worse!
gah!  i'm so excited for summer vacation!
so i think we all felt a little out of sorts.
it reminded me of living in the sorority house in was like the whole household was pmsing together
there are many things it's nice to do together...that isn't one of them.
i know i have a bad case of the blahs when i prefer eating out to cooking...
and sleeping to reading.
that being said we did venture out for burgers on saturday night.
oh, and milky way pie.
and a drive by my aunt and uncle's, and slowly...slowly things started looking up.
the highlight of the weekend for me was sunday morning without doubt.
palm sunday is a somber, reflective mass.
i didn't cry during the passion this year, but a couple of the hymns did get to me.
but then i felt much much better.
we all had a little more spring in our step after church even though sunday was the more wintery day.
i had more inspiration to do some things i love.
like cook with my girl: nostalgic twinkie cupcakes and a cheesy pizza for lunch.
then when the rest of my family left for grandma and grandpa's, i relished in the quiet of the house.
i knew i wouldn't be good company so i stayed behind, albeit reluctantly.
i worked out, wrote in some journals and read.
i really needed it too.
today i feel better.
at peace.
it is what it is.
both mother nature and human nature.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rude Awakenings

I may have been up before the birds this morning thanks to my boys.  Tigger was relentless.  I'm used to him climbing all over me like he's a mountain goat and I'm a cliff he must master, but I cannot ignore him when he sits on my face and starts eating my hair.  I'm not so able to tune out Peanut either when he gets to caterwauling around my bed.  He sounds so desperate and in dire need.  So I succumbed once again to my little furry masters who wanted their bowls filled and more than anything their daily tuna treat.  After they were obliged, I looked in on Big Ben (BB).  He was hard to spot as he was not his usual Kermit green, but rather the same mottled brown of the stick he was resting on.  That's likely equal parts camouflage and cold.  I turned on his heat lamp and immediately he started to green up.  The heat kicked in and the sun started to rise just as I sat down with my first cup of coffee.  It may be spring break, but winter is hanging on here a little longer. The sun is melting much of the snow, but more is in the forecast for next week.  As much as I am prone to resist seasonal change, even I lamented the cold temps last night when Jess joined me for end of week wine.  I mused that this same time last year we were likely adjourning to the patio instead of the living room.

I had a dream last night that I cannot stop thinking about this morning.  The short version is that Coach bet on the Badgers with some friends and the windfall they were awarded was 3 million dollars.  That was pretty exciting and although I was sworn to secrecy, I naturally wanted to tell my Mom. I went searching for her even while knowing she was dead as if money could bring her back.  Desperately I went door to door never to find her.  It was just another in a string of sad realizations.
It made me think, I tell you.  I am not so silly as to believe that what I dream about other people represents some sort of veiled or occult truth about them, but neither am I so stupid as to reject the fact that is represents some occult truth about me.
I finally finished Angle of Repose, but I still have Stegner's words roaming around my mind.  I think it's rather obvious what truth my dreams reveal. Four and a half years later and my grief can still present itself in such a raw, heart wrenching state.

I think about Wilma reassuring Miss Bit that she is sensitive, and sensitive is good.  Some people feel things more than others she explains, but we can only do our best.  We cannot fix or heal the world.  That is the pitfall of empaths.  And it's hitting me how much I too need to hear these words.  We only have power over our own thoughts and feelings.  This very cognition...these very emotions control our actions, and only our actions.  It all sounds so simple, yet I can assure you...really it's not.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

The gift of a year.  I recently learned that I am a year younger than I've been telling myself and others since August.  This isn't the first time this has happened to me.  Age is mostly only a number to me.

I finally finished Stegner's Angle of Repose.  I started it in October so it was a slow dance with this partner.  His prose is just so captivating, but this time I found the story on the slim side much unlike the richness of Crossing to Safety

This passage...I find it hard to describe what it is like to look fully into the eyes that one has known that well- known better than one knows the look of one's own eyes, actually - and then be put away, deliberately forgotten.  That instantly reasserted intimacy, that resumption of what looks like friendly concern, is like nakedness, like exposure.

Lizard love.  Big Ben is making friends with each and every member of the family.  Dare I even say he's kinda cute?

Stir fry trio for dinner this week.  Yes, that's Green rice aka brown rice with kale again.

I finally said yes to lunch with friends today.

The kids are on spring break! 

My Easter menu is almost set.  I'm trying with all my might to keep it simple -I'm aiming to serve a fine few delicious dishes rather than a smorgasboard of every possibility.

Plans to dye eggs tomorrow with Miss Bit.  We are going to color some naturally with tumeric, blueberries, red cabbage and a few other things we can drum up.

Monday, March 18, 2013

2 day pass

it was a red and green weekend.
red for our team and green for our heritage.
we celebrated both.
but first we met grandma and grandpa for dinner and a drop off friday eve :
mexican food and the kids for the weekend.
only t. bone ordered pancakes and miss bit had her standard chicken tenders with a side of choriqueso.
i think he had grandpa's short order cook breakfast on the brain.
coach and i were up early saturday and ready for a slippery walk even though we stopped out on our way home the night before.
it snowed again overnight.
this day last year was more like summer than winter.
such is march in our neck of the woods.
we met friends at a pub for our annual st. pat's day slaintes and go buckys.
sunday we lazed about on another wintry morn.
i made irish soda bread and a pot of ina's very delicious looking and smelling winter minestrone.
we went to fetch kids who didn't want to come home.
before we left, some of us watched the badger game and others looked at grandma's scrapbook collection.
it was a very quiet car ride home.
leftovers were served for dinner.
corned beef will be enjoyed another day.
once showered and jammied, we cozied in to watch the bible.
the kids got hooked over the weekend.
i was worried miss bit would be up all night because of the violence.
no worries...she slept like a log.
she wants to go back to g & g's next weekend.

On My Mind Monday

People were walking in from all directions, leaving themselves at the door, putting away their business cards and gathering in a circle.  They said nothing, and looked around them.  The light through the windows began to fade.  A scatter of seats became a congregation.  And whatever was said, or not said, became less important than the silence.
I recently read and reread Pico Ayer's Chapels.  The passage above spoke to me especially because of the time of year: Lent.  The Tenebrae service will be said on Good Friday.  I've only been once in my lifetime, but that single experience made a lasting impact.  Tenebrae is Latin for shadows.  This mass is celebrated in the shadows, which is to say a dimly candle lit church.  The absence of light makes the mood more sacred and solemn in the same way the absence of sound does.  After the readings, the candles are extinguished and then we sit in silent darkness. There is a hush that is really anything, but quiet.

A chapel is where you can hear something beating below your heart.  After a short time, a door is slammed shut signifying the stone being rolled to seal Jesus' tomb.  That was precisely one of the moments when I witnessed that something...the holy spirit...beating below my heart.  It is a moving, changing experience.

The Church is only one of the places that I worship. I also experience many moments of divine providence as I walk through the woods or along the lake.  Really, any time I'm out in nature.  I have always felt the wisdom in Billy Joel's lyrics:  I believe there is a time for meditation in cathedrals of our own.  A ha...I do believe it...personal cathedrals everywhere.  Wherever you happen to feel moved to reflection is a sanctuary.  Any place that makes you feel how small, and yet important you are is a temple or a tabernacle.

When I'm in the fresh air watching the world change from day to day, season to season I am certainly reverent.  It is holy. When it's just me and the trees and the birds and the wind, I feel connected to something.  Something benevolent, omniscient and omnipresent.  Something big and beautiful.  It grounds me and lifts me up at once.  It's energizing and calming.  Ayer's reflects, If people are always running to catch up, they will never have the time and space to create a world worth catching up with.  When I slow down, I see the worth in every small thing.  That's why I have to make the time to step I can get in.  Doing so makes me want to be a better person, and it restores my hope in my humble ability to make a better world starting right in my own own little life.

He also wisely states that, Happiness is absorption, being entirely yourself and entirely in one place.  That is the chapel we crave.  Not narcissistic self- absorption, but rather the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual clarity that comes from being true to oneself...yes, that is contentment.  Happy peace, or peaceful happiness.  Be. Here. Now. It is and has been my mantra, and yet it is anything but automatic.  I say it out loud to remind myself many times a day.  I do my best to pay homage to the here and now and that is a bit of divinity in the dailiness too.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

This Week's Menu

Or four.

This week the forecast is for more winter.  It will be chilly and snowy so my menu will reflect that.

Tomorrow is St. Pat's Day so corned beef is a must. Most likely in the form of reubens ala panini.

Coach and I just watched Ina make the most comforting pot of winter minestrone.  He decided that I must make that with my homemade chicken stock which I, in fact, have well stocked.

Chicken Marsala with sauteed French green beans.  I bought a big bag of beans last week at Costco because they looked good.  I am always impressed with their produce.

Burrito bowls inspired by Dinner A Love Story and Chipotle.  I will use brown rice and chicken with various other toppings as desired.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Getting up this morning and working out first thing.  I used to walk with the birds many a Friday morn.  It felt great to end the week and start the weekend on this healthy note.

The elliptical.

New shoes. One pair for indoor workouts and one for outdoor.  My heal is already feeling less tender.  I learned the hard way that shoes need to be retired sometimes before they show it.

Willy Porter on the way to work this morning.  In a couple weeks we will see him on stage.

Thoughtful, grey days and bright vases of sunny daffodils.

T. Bone aced...A-C-E-D!...his second trimester.  He was rewarded with a day off mid-week to sled and eat Shamrock shakes. School was cancelled because there was no heat btw.

Happening upon a compilation of Anne Morrow Lindberghs personal writings.  Gift From The Sea is a book I treasure.  I read it again the summer before last.  I was envious of the time AML was able to carve out (weeks and sometimes months) for escaping to the beach where she could write in solitude. As I read letters and journal entries, it became clear that she lived a very different life from the one I have always imagined.  Still, she is such an inspiration.

Brown Rice with Kale  I made this recipe two times this week because I loved it that much.

Perfect muffins filled with plump blueberries.

Dancing With The Stars starts this week.  I'm a bit bugged that the latest bachelor is going to be on.  I think he seems like a gentleman, but this draw towards more publicity makes me question how genuine his new relationship is.  Sadly,  I don't have high hopes that they will last long.  Maybe long enough to throw the big ABC media grabbing wedding they are hyping, but then I think it will be downhill from there.
Pope Francis I. 
T. Bone and Miss Bit are spending the weekend with Grandma, Grandpa and Bodi.  
We will meet some friends for green beer and corned beef Saturday afternoon.  It is a sure sign of aging that I want to be far from any pub when the sun sets.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Miss Bit's Dinner Review...Take It!

Hi.  This is Miss Bit here.  I'm guest on blogging tonight about what we had for dinner last night and also what I also had for lunch today.  That's because it was good.  It was so good with the sweet and sour on the chicken that my Dad kept going yum! We all did.  The green rice was ok.  I'd eat it any day to get more of that chicken though.  Everyone should try it.  You cant just look at it and say you don't  like have to at least try it. Its  really good!

Thanks Bit and thanks Casa Wags we very much enjoyed your version of stir fried chicken and brown rice with kale.  It's rare that a single dinner can delight and please all four of us.  This one did.

Signs of Spring

The boys just spotted the first chippie of the soon to come season.  They chirp and yip at the little creature awake after a long, cold sleep.  The birds are out in force too.  Even the robins.  It seems as if overnight they have returned to form an avian orchestra.  It's still cold today, but bright and sunny.  It's the kind of late season day that hints of what is to come, and as usual I'm not really sure how I feel about that.  Not that my feelings on the matter have any affect on Mother Nature's whims or the earth's increasing tilt toward the sun.  It's just that the seasonal shift leaves me teetering and feeling a tad untethered.  My own axis is askew.

It's hard to believe that we are already three months into the year...a quarter lap complete of another revolution around the sun.  I look around my house and I have the plants to prove it: a poinsettia, a shamrock and a tulip.  It's like the opening line of a joke: Santa, St. Patrick and the Easter Bunny were at a bar and...

The blooms nothing but a metaphorical menagerie of what has passed...yes, already.  Gone.  Done.  My regret makes no sense because what is to come is beautiful and in many senses much anticipated.  It's just my nature to look back.  I'm a rehash-er, a rethink-er, a remember-er.  And try as I might to spend less time in is simply what I do.  'Tis frankly who I am.

Monday, March 11, 2013

On My Mind Monday

Through recent experiences with both birth and death, I have discovered that we enter and leave life as, among other things, words.  Though we might later become daughters and sons, many of us start out as whispers or rumors before ending up with our names scrawled out next to our parents’ on birth certificates.  We also struggle to find, both throughout our lives and at the end, words to pin down how we see and talk about ourselves. 

Edwidge Danticat on the power of the word and also words as they become stories.

Such is the power of the stories we dare tell others about ourselves.  They do inform, instruct, and inspire.  They might even entertain, but they can also strip us totally bare, reducing (or expanding) the essence of everything we are to words.

I'm reading The Best American Essays of 2011.  She edited the compilation. I've appreciated Danticat's raw honesty from the first time I read her in college, which is to say many years ago.  I'm also appreciating the richness of the varied pieces included in this anthology, but especially the non-fiction.  I've always been drawn to the true story. There is something about sharing one's personal experience or outlook that takes it...takes a higher level.  It's more intimate.  I'm drawn in deeper.  It's a welcome break from all the fiction I read, and yet some of the topics are making me think a whole lot so it's not in any way a relaxing respite.  But who am I kidding?  I pick provoking over placating most any day.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

This Week's Menu

I believe that people who love to cook are the best people too!

I wanted to grill tonight.  I mean I wanted Coach to grill tonight, but we're a tad water logged here so instead we will make corned beef.  Coach prepares it in the pressure cooker and as far as I'm concerned there is no other way.  I'll serve that with a root vegetable gratin and roasted fingerling potatoes.  Miss Bit loved these potatoes last week and spotted them again in the grocery the other day.  They are healthier, easier and prettier than mashed potatoes.

Also on the menu:

Orecchiette with Turkey Italian Sausage and Crispy Broccoli from Dinner a Love Story

Taco Soup also from Dinner a Love Story and bread.

Stir Fry Chicken with Brown Rice and Kale both from My Father's Daughter

Friday, March 8, 2013

Grateful Friday

Another stike against fakebooking.  We are less connected than ever even as we check in and report multiple times a day.

“Friendship,” writes C.S. Lewis, “is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.’” I'm grateful for unexpected kindred spirits.

I spent this past Tuesday night curled up with a book.  I read through Molly Ringwald's novel in short stories called When it Happens to You.  I enjoyed her voice.  Her telling was honest and insightful.  I'm only sorry that I didn't save it for summer as it would be an excellent beach read.  I took a break long enough to put a pan of Ina's chicken stew in the oven and also to read a chapter of A Little Princess with my Lil Bit.

Ina's chicken stew.  It is sort of sinful.

Books.  Words.  Ideas.  Inspiration.  It seems that I cannot read enough lately.  I've already read 9 books since the first of the year.  As I was driving to work the other morning, I knew for sure that if I were exiled to a remote island I would want only a supply of journals and moleskins, books and music.

Big Ben will be joining the rest of the family at Casa Wags soon.  Big Ben is a little anole lizard that has stolen Miss Bit's heart.  I just don't know how she'll contain her joy if we ever tell her she can get a puppy.

T. Bone's conference last night.  It seemed impossible that he could improve from last quarter, but he did.

spring cleaning.


When a delicious dinner doesn't involve lots of obscure ingredients or the use of every pan in my kitchen: Shrimp scampi.  Who would think that so few ingredients (shrimp, butter, EVOO, garlic, parsley, lemon zest and juice, crushed red pepper, white wine and Parmesan) could come together in such a big way?

Finding my muse.  I wrote 3 short stories this week.  Now I'll be rewriting and editing for 3 years.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ode to March

Through my room darkening blinds I can sense the world whitewashed first thing this morning -
although in light, not snow.
Flakes will flutter and fly before the day is done I am told -
The calendar confirms they won't linger long.
The sun is rising earlier in the east every day.
Soon the birds back from the south will be bustling in the bushes below my window ajar.
Their cackles and chirps blown in on spring's wakening breeze -
Bitter and harsh early on,
Then humid and billowy.
The wind carrying a message of it's own -
Words from the north or a missive from the south.

The branches of the crab apple tree are dying to show off their buds -
Seemingly they will appear overnight.
The barren boughs will burst with leaves and soon flowers.
Then the newborn petals will wilt onto the ground on the whim of a wet windy day -
The sweet spring smell overcome by the dusky decay of what is always to come.
This tree waits all year for a week's worth of blooms if she is fortunate.
I want to ask her if it is worth it -
But I think I know the answer.

The grass will soon grow green and soften caressing my bare feet when I cross the lawn -
Cool blades thick like velvety feathers until scorched by the sun and denied water,
Then sharp like a sea of splintered stones with each step I cautiously take.
I wonder what it feels like to lie dormant while the rest of the world stretches for fair share of sun and few drops of rain.
Is inertion a relief?
Or is it the only remedy? 

I haven't changed my calendar yet.  It still reads February.  It's not that I don't like spring although for most of my life that's what I have said.  That's what I've felt.  It's just that I don't like change.  Change, even for the better, confronts me like an assault.  The only thing worse is being betwixt and between, which is exactly where I am left in the blur between the last days of winter before spring.  I celebrate that it will snow today, but worry will it melt tomorrow?  Is this the last snowfall of the season?  Firsts and lasts call for a pause...a prayer. When it snows again, will I be counting down the days until Christmas?  Will time march on through tulips to peonies to mums until it's time to dig it all up before the first frost?  Life is fleeting.  Nature is a near constant reminder of this fact.  I marvel at the world's transformation from one day or season to the next, but the impermanence...the transience makes me uncomfortable and just a little sad. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

On My Mind Monday

There are no moments of joy because you are always anticipating when the next possible moments of joy might arrive.  As soon as tomorrow?  As late as next year?  Maybe in a week or two?  Not that it matters, because you would not enjoy that either, you'd be too busy wondering where the next fix of fun would come from.  Addiction is, in its essence, an inability to live in the moment.

More, Now, Again
Elizabeth Wurtzel

I took on Wurtzel's memoirs back to back.  First I lived through her depression (Prozac Nation) and then her addiction.  Both chronicles, difficult to read at times, left me amazed not only that she lived through them, but that she was strong enough to tell the stories of her struggles.  I paused many times pondering her words.  This passage, in particular, resonates with me. It seems to me that so many of us wish our lives away waiting for this or that to come or happen so sure that when it does, we will truly be happy.  Sadly, the inability to live in the moment afflicts us all at times whether or not we suffer from addiction.  It's hard to live for the moment.  It takes discipline to be in the here and now whether it's joyful, rueful or something in between.  It is a leap of faith to remind myself: be. here. now.  It takes trust to wholly embrace that here is worth being.  It is not always clear that the closest certitude is in the now.  The only way: to be.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

2 day pass

this weekend was perfectly filled with highlights and down time.
peaks like a girl's night out to kick it all off and family dinner hot off the grill to close it.
the two, perfect bookends for a just right couple of days.
just right to me means time to do and time to just be.
a mixture of coulds and shoulds.
it's made up of alone time and moments to share in the company of others.
it is time set aside to read a short story, or write, or take a walk or maybe a picture, or bake in between loads of laundry and chores and church.
it is clearing the calendar for the whole afternoon to take miss bit and her lovely friend on a date.
we attended the raptor show at our area preserve and then went for linner.
after t. bone returned home from a day on the slopes, we threw in a pizza for latenight snack.
it was a come what may...go with the flow couple of days.
and still i am ready to succomb to sleep...i am craving solitude and sweet dreams.

mr. windchill mc cloud is the newest resident raptor and my new favorite.

the snow covered trails will soon be a muddy mess.
tallulah, the turkey vulture, likes to dig for her food.

here she is showing off her 6 foot wing span.

the girls enjoying their time together.

whenever there is pizza on the menu, miss bit will order it.  that is so long as there are no chicken tenders.  she shared a slice with her friend telling me that she thinks very highly of her.

along the lakefront for a sunny sunday morning stroll.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

This Week's Menu

This week my schedule is amok so I am trying to keep things simple.  Nothing fancy or fussy.

Tomorrow we've been invited for Sunday dinner by my BIL.  Rumor has it that he is grilling steaks and roasting potatoes.  I will bring wine and dessert.  I have two nice bottles of French wine ready to go and will soon be making strawberry shortcake cupcakes.

I will be roasting another chicken this week because they were on sale and they not only smell delicious baking away in the oven, but they taste good too.  I will serve it with pan fried fingerling potatoes and sauteed spinach.  The over 40 diners will be served like this: spinach topped with roasted potatoes topped with a poached egg topped with some special Parmesan.  It is delicious.  The young ones get the deconstructed version and believe it when I say that they don't know what they are missing by eliminating the egg.  I am so smitten with poached eggs that I would eat them on almost amything these days.

Denver Frittata is still on the menu.  This is the third week I am carrying it over.  Coach is really getting on my case about this one.  In the next 5 days, I must make it happen.  Fruit salad will serve as a pretty, tasty, healthy side.

Then I will either make Ina's Chicken Stew with homemade biscuits or pick up Subway.  That is an escape clause if ever there were such a thing.

Leftovers will likely be scarce for the Thursday night line-up so the kids will probably eat something processed or packaged.  They LOVE that.  I will make a much loved salad that has been on my mind lately.  All you need to know is that it involves some baby romaine, blue cheese, toasted almonds, pears, apples and dried cranberries all topped with a light vinaigrette and maybe some chicken if there is any left.

btw...Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food is a must read for anyone who likes to cook.  I  have read it from cover to cover and consider it a work of wisdom and love...wisdom with regrd to food and love for it.


I needed a night like last night.  It was nice to get out with Jess for girl talk and wine.  I've been such a shameless homebody for weeks now.  And I'm kinda smiling while I write this just remembering the nuances of the night.

Our first stop was a little French place that came at the recommendation of a foodie we trust.  We walked in to find that we were the only patrons.  We were outnumbered by the waitstaff 3:1.  Sure we had our pick of tables, but all kinds of things flash through your mind when a restaurant is empty on a Friday night.  We dismissed any idea that they were recently exposed on Dirty Dining after I peaked in the kitchen on the way to the ladies room.  It was clean as a whistle.  That would have been the ultimate deal breaker. Our server was very nice, but she couldn't overcome the disappointing facts that we were at a French Brassiere that didn't have escargot on the menu or a single French wine on the list.  Not a Cote du Rhone or a Bordeaux to be found.  They served soft doughy bread (instead of crunchy baguettes) with olive oil (isn't that Italian) and a duck pate that may have been French, but tasted anything but fresh.  I seriously threw up a little in my mouth just writing that.  So we sipped our not French wines grudgingly and hatched a plan.  Jess' phantom kids were home with her incompetent dream husband.  They fell sick and cut our night short once again.  Damn them!  Without a ring on her finger or a ring on the phone, it was not really believable, but it allowed us to save face in the moment.  I won't be nominating her for an Emmy for the performance, but I'll never forget it either.  It felt sort of devious in a dine and ditch way, but we paid for our drinks and left a real nice tip. I felt guilty when the waitress confessed that this same thing happened just last week.  Of course, it did.  She said, Come back next week.  Of course, we won't.

Plan B proved much more promising.  We ended up at 8 Twelve belly up to the very lively bar.  It's a joint farm to table venture between MVPs Ryan Braun and Aaron Rodgers.  We finally got our French wine and an order of tater tots stuffed with gouda, which were delish even without the bacon ketchup and the chipolte ranch served on the side.  We lingered over the lovely bottle long enough to make friends around the bar.  We were privy to the bartender's life story although, oddly, never his name.  We learned that Shorty and Carol have been married for 54 years, and that Shorty is shy, but I guess not with strangers.  I have Brenda's card.  She liked our energy, and our complexions.  The later made Jess chuckle as she pointed out a rather prominent pimple on her cheek that she was sporting all day.  She's a writer for ABC.  She writes for Revenge.  That is one of Jess' favoritest shows. I think she should call her when she's in California next month, or maybe I'll call on her behalf.  Hmmm?  The couple adjacent to us was on a first date.  They met on the Internet.  The date didn't go so well as was confirmed by the newly engaged couple between us who were in town on business and getting married next year at...well, you get the point.  We were wined, dined and also quite entertained.

The night ended over a ridiculously good cheese sampler and more wine. When in Wisconsin.   We had more grapes than anything.  Jess cannot eat shellfish and I don't eat meat on Fridays during Lent.  I would like to go back and eat there again when I can, in fact, eat meat.  As hard as I try to eat less meat, I am a carnivore at the end of the day and the burgers looked divine.  So did the lobster crab cakes.  Just sayin.'

I want to thank my dear friend for a fun GNO.  She treated for my birthday.  My birthday was in August.

I actually feel special and lucky.  My brother's wedding gift is still on her dining room table.  He's been married two years in May.

Jess, Brenda is sending her limo to meet you at LAX.  It will be fully stocked with a fine Beaujolais and a bold Burgandy.  Consider it an early birthday gift.  You're welcome.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Grateful Friday

Jennifer Lawrence winning for Silver Linings Playbook.  I thought she was so humble and heartfelt in her acceptance of the award and I love her even more for stumbling and then getting right back up and making light of it.  I am boycotting ABC.  They showed her little fall no less than 3 times in the hour I watched The Today Show the next morning.  Of all the moments of the night, they chose to capitalize on that?  Shame.

A game of  Wits and Wagers with my family Saturday night.  It is all of our all time favorite board game.  

A fireball of a full moon this week.  So magnificent the picture paled in comparison and was deleted.

Happy Birthday celebrations that end with flutes of champagne and my super famous flourless chocolate cake topped with chocolate ganache and raspberries and served over homemade vanilla bean sauce.

A sure sign of spring in the air...when these two sleep separately.

Pure, true unconditional love and ceaseless snuggles.

Cantaloupe with blueberries.

Baked french toast.  I planned on serving this as a surprise for the kids Wednesday morning.  I set my alarm early to put it in the oven.  When I came downstairs, I was welcomed by a whole world of white.  The streets had yet to be plowed.  My no school suspicions were soon confirmed.  So I cozied in with my book and waited for the rest of the house to wake up before leisurely making breakfast.  It was the perfect morning to have a special treat to serve.

A mid week day of respite and revelry thanks to the snow.  The phone first rang at 7:20.  It was T. Bone's friend just trying to get a plan for the fun day.  More calls were soon to follow.  Miss Bit's friend was face timing her by 7:30.  So much for peace and quiet, but the kids had a good wet winter time.

Snow blowers.

Miss Bit and Coach are reading the first Harry Potter book together.

A roasted chicken that was met with awesome approval by the whole family this week.

Miss Bit's conference. Her teacher is once again quite smitten with just about everything about her.

The kids both have invitations with friends this evening.  I have a date with aunt Jess.  Coach gets a quiet night at home.

Hide and seek.